Direct consequences of the DMCA

Another example of the DMCA hard at work can be seen today at MacOS X Hints. The author has wisely chosen not to take on the RIAA or Apple, by flouting the DMCA and publishing information on how to circumvent the copy protection scheme used on the tunes downloaded from the new Apple Music Service.

It is interesting to note, though, that this isn't the only reason why he has chosen to avoid this course of action. It turns out that he feels torn by not wanting to cause more piracy than necessary.

It's a common issue with those of us who think (perhaps naïvely) that the people who are actually willing to buy things will do so when given the chance (at a fair price) and those who don't will be better advertising than they are a cost.

I have long protested the comments by the RIAA and Software Publisher's Assocation that software piracy "costs" publishers money. My belief is that people who don't buy most software (or music) do so because they just would not buy it at that price, even if copy protection were 100% effective. They would either find another program to use (or song to listen to) or they would do without.

Given that as an option, it is somewhat better to have a product in the hands of people who wouldn't pay for it, but might tell their friends (who, in turn, may have a less compromised sense of ethics) how well the software works (how good the song is) and thereby encourage them to purchase it.

The only kind of software (or music) copy protection that I think is called for are those mechanisms that are minimally invasive and remind users that they are illegally using software, so that they cannot plead ignorance as an excuse.

Of course, if your product isn't of high quality, this whole argument goes up in smoke, because the non-purchasers will tell their friends that you software is unsuitable, and because they didn't purchase it in the first place, they won't be shamed into hyping the product in order to make sure they don't come across looking like idiots for having purchased it in the first place. So, if you make mediocre software (or music), this attitude probably won't fly for you.

At the end of the day, people are either going to pay for something or they are not. Better to have them using your product for free and recommending it to their buying friends than to have them using (and recommending) your competitor's product.